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Reasons Why People Drink Alcohol

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This article is primarily for the individuals who seek to better understand drinkers and alcoholics in why they choose to drink. As an alcoholic, the author of this article understands all too well why people drink alcohol and, quite frankly, often the appeal of alcohol seems almost intuitively obvious to both those still suffering from alcoholism and those in recovery.

However, it is very true that in fact there are a lot of people who just do not enjoy alcohol as much; they don’t like the taste, they don’t like feeling tipsy, they don’t like feeling out of control (though the alcoholic generally has paradoxical feelings in this regard). If you happen to fit into this category and you seek to understand the drinker in your life, then please see below, as we have listed some of the most common reasons why people drink alcohol.

Furthermore, this article can be of help to those in recovery. At Origins, in our client curricula, we tend to not dissect the “why” so much as we just accept that it “is” and that an alcoholic not in recovery is going to drink. That said, it can be helpful in identifying triggers if you know the most prominent reasons why people drink alcohol so that in creating a proper relapse prevention plan you can seek what forces are generally at play in why people drink alcohol.

Societal Influence / The alcoholic beverage industry

Have you noticed that movies as of late seem to make binge drinking out to be more of a funny commonplace occurrence than as some sort of behavioral anomaly. Humor related to alcohol can be quite funny, indeed, but look at some potential ulterior motives in creating the cinematic ubiquity of alcoholic behavior. For instance, it’s a known fact that advertisers have a hand within the movie industry. Did you see “Transformers?” It was practically a GM commercial. If you think this is different for alcohol, then you are sorely mistaken.

Moreover, the prominence of commercials for alcoholic beverages has been much greater in the recent years. You can’t watch really any show of any degree of popularity without an ad for beer or liquor. And, similarly, you can’t open up a magazine without seeing an advertisement beckoning you to “tap the rockies” or the like.

The alcoholic beverage industry is an enormous multi-billion dollar industry. The more prominent people believe drinking alcohol is, the fewer inhibitions people will have about drinking more often. In other words, a media-induced perception of acceptance around drinking allows people to drink more, thus increasing the bottom-line of Anheuser Busch. However, this same perception also allows the alcoholic to justify why they drink alcohol with such frequency thereby better shielding their illness.

Peer Pressure

We are all familiar with the sort of high-school aged peer pressure that we generally associate with the term. As in, your buddy dares you to do another shot at the teenage keg party. The assumption, however, is that this is a product of age and that is dissipates over time. This is in fact not the case. Certainly it takes on different forms, but peer pressure to drink alcohol exists throughout a persons life.

For example, it is often for a worker in an office to have a bad day and want to go to the bar to have a couple and let off some steam. Often this person has to do a bit of recruitment: “Oh, come on… it’s been a horrible day. Just have one or two.” Often such a person will find a taker. How is this situation really all that different than that outlined above? The teenager at the keg party wants to get hammered so he encourages his buddy to do so, so he won’t feel like a loser for being so drunk; the work associate wants to let loose but he doesn’t want to feel like a loser for drinking alone so he pressures his co-worker to join him. Their both instances of preying upon most individuals instinctive desire to want to please others in order to reach a desired outcome for oneself. The problem is that the alcoholic or problem drinker may very well work in an office full of a lot of people, thus affording him many opportunities to be pressure throughout the week by his peers.

To Lose Ones Inhibitions

Let’s face it: there are a lot of shy people out there. Moreover, there are also a lot of situations in which someone doesn’t even necessarily have to be all that shy in order to be intimidated. For instance, a boyfriend meeting his girlfriend’s friends for the first time is probably going to want some liquid courage. Or, perhaps a person on a first date with someone… that is often a time when people feel the need to imbibe a bit more beforehand and during.

Whatever the reason, people often drink alcohol to lose their inhibitions and be able to feel comfortable in situations where they otherwise would not. Alcohol has just such an effect and it is also known for its empathic qualities. It’s a wonderful, temporary “social lubricant.” The word “temporary” is of course used because the effects are short-lived and, quite often, the person drinking becomes a little too uninhibited and behaves in an inappropriate, embarrassing or obnoxious manner.

Stress Relief

Alcohol has wonderful anxiolytic properties and people drink alcohol very often because they are stressed and alcohol quite nicely provides the temporary illusion that such stress has dissipated when it fact it has just been temporarily put on hold.

Quite often, however, drinking alcohol acts to exacerbate stress in the long run because rather than dealing with the stressful situation, the drinker will often drink to escape the stress, thus prolonging that which is actually stressing them. Moreover, alcohol has been proven to heighten anxiety among those who drink, when they are not drinking it. This, in turn, promotes further drinking which in turn begets further anxiety and really it is just one vicious cycle.


This list is by no means comprehensive and, quite frankly, when it comes to true alcoholics, they don’t really need an excuse to drink. They just drink. That said, for the non- or light drinker the problem of alcoholism can truly be baffling and difficult to understand and, therefore, look to the above areas if you seek to understand the drinker in your life.

Are you concerned about the drinker in your life? If so, please call 844-843-8935 to discuss the prospect of treatment or click the contact button below.